In this challenge, students examine the role of 13 historical figures in pre-Confederation British North America: Murray, Carleton, Pontiac, Tecumseh, Papineau, Mackenzie, Durham, Macdonald, Étienne Cartier, Étienne Paschal Taché, Elizabeth Bruyere, Laura Secord, Marguerite d'Youville. Students will determine each individual's most significant contribution and prepare epitaphs that praise three of these figures.
Create a digital or print photo gallery of the assigned historical figures. Consult online resources, such as the Canadian Encyclopedia or the Library and Archives of Canada for images. Introduce the historical figures and indicate that each played a role in the development of pre-Confederation British North America.
Create and distribute fact sheets, with a few key facts about each person, or assign readings for each historical figure (see References). Arrange students into groups and assign each group one historical figure to research. Groups should use their research to draw inferences about the assigned character's impact on British North America, including the effects on the following factors:
- cooperation: Did the action(s) encourage or discourage relationships between groups?
- sovereignty: Did the action(s) enable or disable each group's abilities to control its affairs?
- identity: Did the action(s) promote or impede each group's unique culture?
- fairness: Did the action(s) enhance or detract from the uniqueness of each group?
Ask each group to present a short list of three to five contributions of its assigned figure to the class.
Ask students to individually assess their assigned person's most significant contribution to pre-Confederation British North America in each of the four areas listed above. Consider adapting one of the strategies and charts in Rating Options (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Invite students to create epitaphs for three figures that describe the person's involvement in key historical events. Explain that an epitaph is a short piece of prose or verse that praises someone who has died. It may be helpful to provide examples of epitaphs from print or electronic sources (see References). Discuss the critical features of a memorable epitaph; e.g., highlights positive character traits and contributions, genuine presentation, well written, concise. Encourage students to use these criteria as they create their epitaphs. Ask students to choose their favourite epitaph to share with the rest of the class.